The National Deaf Children's Society has apologised on behalf of collectors it hired to take to Stroud high street - and which kept collecting despite the charity recalling them after complaints.

Simon Vincent of Trading Post Records was among the town's traders who complained to the society over the collectors sent by an agency who have been seeking donations by Kendrick Street.

"We get approached every time - people are actually avoiding coming into that area," said Simon.

"It's been absolute nightmare. It's killing trade."

Because they were signing up people for direct debit and not straight-up cash, the collectors were exempt from mandatory rules for chuggers.

A spokesperson for Stroud District Council explained: “A street collection permit is required from Stroud District Council by organisations wishing to collect money in the street. The council has a calendar system and a code of practice for street collection permits.

"Although the legislation covering street collections only refers to collecting money and selling articles for charity, it does not cover direct debit sign-ups, so we request that direct debit collectors voluntarily book on to our calendar and abide by our code of practice.

“We only book in one direct debit collector for only one day per week. We brought this procedure in some years ago following a spate of complaints.

“Generally it has reduced complaints about direct debit collectors, however, as it is voluntary we cannot legally enforce it.

In the face of complaints, the Society has now recalled the agency collectors - though the fundraisers did continue for one more day before getting the message.

Mike Wade, director of fundraising and communications at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “We’re incredibly sorry that there have been problems in Stroud with a team of our fundraisers. As soon as we received a complaint about the way these fundraisers were acting, this was taken up with the fundraisers directly and they were retrained. When further complaints were received we instructed the agency to stop all fundraising in the town.”

He added: “We are registered with the Fundraising Regulator and ensure all agencies we work with are also registered with them and abide by the Regulator’s Code of Fundraising Practice.

"We also employ a full time training manager who keeps in close contact with all of the agencies working for the National Deaf Children’s Society to make sure they maintain the highest possible standards."